- Johnson & Johnson's Janssen has entered into a collaboration and licensing deal with MacroGenics to acquire rights to a preclinical immuno-oncologic asset being developed for treatment of blood cancers and solid tumors. The deal covers a bispecific molecule that targets both CD3, as well as an undisclosed target.
- This is the second deal between Janssen and Macrogenics in 17 months. In late 2014, Janssen acquired rights to another bispecific molecule, MGD011, for $125 million. MGD011, which targets CD19/CD3, is in development for B-cell malignancies.
- These drugs were developed using MacroGenics' Dual‐Affinity Re‐Targeting, or DART, platform.
Clearly Janssen see potential in MacroGenics, the DART platform, and bispecific imuno-oncologics. Janssen will pay $75 million up front for the rights, and lined up an additional $665 million in potential milestone payments. The upfront payment is unusually large for a preclinical asset, reflecting Janssen's confidence in DART's potential as a platform.
Janssen has been building up its pipeline and trying to muscle its way into the immuno-oncology race, where the current front-runners are Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck, with Roche and AstraZeneca following closely.
Janssen hopes to strengthen its position through th promise of the DART platform and the ability to attack multiple targets with one bispecific molecule.
As for MacroGenics, the deals shores up their cash reserves as it continues to grow. The additional cash from the previous deal with Janssen has allowed the company to add staff (there will soon be 300 employees) and continue to work on development of their own assets, with the most advanced being a phase 3, HER-2 targeting drug for breast cancer.
"MGD015 is a promising product candidate that employs MacroGenics’ proprietary DART platform to enable a potent redirected T-cell killing mechanism with 'off-the-shelf' convenience. This approach is already being evaluated in five other clinical-stage DART programs," said Scott Koenig, CEO of MacroGenics in a statement on the news.